Manchester City Council approves $52,000 grant for second inclusive play area at Christmas Tree Park – Baltimore Sun

Manchester City Council voted last week to use a $52,000 state grant to install the second inclusive play area at Christmas Tree Park.

“We learned that we could get funding from [the Community Parks and Playgrounds Program] for the equipment update,” said Kelly Baldwin, the city’s chief financial officer.

The Community Parks and Playgrounds program provides funds to restore existing parks and create new parks and green spaces in cities and towns across Maryland. Flexible grants are given to local governments to help them rehabilitate, expand or improve parks.

Baldwin said the city also has $22,000 in the current budget for additional equipment at Christmas Tree Park.

She said she met with a representative from Hailey’s Wish, a local foundation that supports building inclusive play environments in and around Carroll County. Inclusive play spaces include equipment that allows children to play together regardless of their physical ability.

Steps have been taken and some options have been worked out to use an existing walkway, which means the playground will be adjacent to a sidewalk that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. For ADA compliance, the minimum sidewalk width is 3 feet.

In 2015, Hailey’s Wish worked with the city to secure its first inclusive playground at Christmas Tree Park by helping purchase $75,000 worth of accessible play components. The new play area will include several self-contained components that will allow children with disabilities to enjoy the equipment alongside their friends.

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Baldwin said the city will remove play equipment currently in the park called a climber and replace it with a new set.

“This is how we recommend…that you use the funds we receive [the state Department of Natural Resources],” she says.

The ADA-compliant playground will include nets, slides, belts and climbers and will provide space for children to pause and connect with others.

Baldwin said the budgeted funds would soon go toward other equipment.

“Did the $22,000 come from fiscal year 2022?” asked Mayor Ryan Warner. Baldwin confirmed yes.

The city expects the new inclusive playground equipment to be installed in the park by mid-June.

“The park is the best thing about Manchester,” Baldwin said.

Harold B. McConnell